The Five Stages of Being in the Placement Team

Design: Hardhik Pinjala

Disclaimer: The following article has been submitted to T5E by the current Academic Affairs Secretary (AAS). The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of T5E.

What’s happening with that company? Did you get it opened for Dual degree students? We have to get that profile at any cost! 

These phrases might sound a bit strange,  but you can hear these quite frequently from any placement team member. These terms have become a staple in my years in the placement team – from being a freshie DPC to the AAS. Let me take you on the rollercoaster that was my time in the team.

Stage 1: Cold Calling

In my first year, like any normal freshie, I was bombarded with team recruitment from a lot of teams – “this is the best team of all times, if you don’t join this team, your insti life is going to suck”. Naturally confused, I approached a lot of seniors – the majority of whom were final/pre-final years.

To my surprise, they suggested that I join the placement team rather than a team in Shaastra or Saarang. Perhaps, soon sitting for placements themselves, they wanted someone in their corner.

I started taking fundaes and though the work didn’t sound that great at first, I came to know that there are 25+ people applying for the Deputy Placement Coordinator (DPC) position in the Chemical engineering placement team. I felt that there must be something that is making these many people put fight for it, that too a week before endsems. So that’s what I did. I put fight and got selected as one of the DPCs, and there was no looking back.

Stage 2: Negotiation

My experience as a DPC was overwhelming. I never thought I could impact someone’s life by doing little things such as checking with them from time-to-time in case they needed any help, or talking to them outside the interview rooms. It’s just so magical when you go and tell someone who has been waiting for the past six hours that they have gotten that job offer. Apart from handling logistics and coordinating with other members, I am pretty sure that was the most satisfying part of the job. After my stint as a DPC, I was pretty sure I wanted to continue in the placement team. I decided to switch to the Industrial & Public Relations Team (IPR). They are the ones who manage the entire set of non-engineering companies. Apart from managing companies offering non-core profiles, this team helps you in getting a crash course in the major non-core sectors – Consulting, Finance and Analytics. Since I had already lost interest in core placements, this seemed very lucrative. I thought joining this team will help me both with work experience and knowledge – which it did. 

Stage 3: Conversion

My tenure as an IPR coordinator was pretty interesting with experiences ranging from HRs screaming at me in the middle of the Jamuna Hostel corridor to infinite treats by seniors.

The team taught me how to keep my ego on the side for the larger benefit of the students. From tirelessly calling companies to trying to convince them why they should hire from IITM, to converting a few companies out of those hundreds is a very very tedious job. But trust me when I say it’s all worth it. When a company you converted hires your seniors, it’s the best feeling in the world because it was you who convinced them to come to IITM in the first place. Apart from the work itself, the Placement Team acted as an excellent platform where I met the most interesting people in insti and made friends with them for life. This team connection is insanely strong because of the common goal we share. 

Stage 4: Hiring

I have never seen a team of individuals working this hard throughout the year. First, during the odd semester preparing for phase 1 of placements which is scheduled in the first week of December, and then during the even semester helping the students through the second phase.

Those 7 days in December feel very different. There is something so special about that time that it enables a 150 membered student team to work day and night running in the corridors of the venue just to make sure that they put all their effort for all the students present at the venue in formal attire with confidence in their eyes and hope in their heart. Missing meals was very common because the environment made sure that the team is energetic as everyone needed them. 

I got the opportunity to lead a team first as an IPR core and then as the Academic Affairs Secretary (Institute Placement Head). Obviously, this position came with a lot of responsibilities and expectations from the student community. Being a core was like a preparation step before leading the entire team. Sitting for placements myself, I got to experience things from the other side. This made me look at a lot of things from the students’ perspective which was a bit unintuitive as a core or a coordinator. As the head, I had to take a lot of tough decisions which could have affected the placement season ahead but two things that helped me in my entire tenure was the support I got from my core team members and my wingmates. From introducing new policies, to planning for uncertainty due to volatility in the market. The stakes are as high as they could be, after all, it’s the placements of students that would be affected. The entire year was a roller-coaster ride. The team was able to pull off a great phase-1 of the season and is currently working hard on phase-2.

Stage 5: Placement Offer (?)

Just when I thought my tenure would end peacefully with another record-breaking (with regard to the offers received) year, Corona paid a visit and since then the situation started deteriorating. Firstly, a few companies rescinded the offers and then it became very difficult to get new opportunities for students. Even in this hard time where the entire world stopped functioning, the placement team kept working tirelessly to get as many opportunities as possible by both directly reaching out to the companies and massively reaching out to our alumni community seeking help in time of crisis. I don’t think ‘thank you’ does justice to what the team puts in to make sure that the students’ efforts don’t go in vain. I am pretty sure that even the next placement season is going to be great because the new team has already started working on contingency plans to make sure that the students suffer the least.

Lastly, I would like to express my gratitude to all the students who have been a part of the team and also their friends who have been supporting them whenever they faced difficulty. I cannot thank the team enough for what all it has taught me – how to be calm and composed, how to deal with hard situations, how to be honest to your work and lastly how to trust your fellow team members.

The last four years have been truly awesome. This final Phil Jackson quote perfectly encapsulates the essence of the placement team:

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”  

Chinmay Agarwal, Academic Affairs Secretary, 2019-20

Signing off.

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